This new year, I’ve decided to be changed.
I no longer believe in goals. I believe in strategies.
Scott Adams convinced me in his book “How to Fail at Almost everything and Still Win Big” in the chapter appropriately titled “Goals Versus Systems.” I found the book hugely encouraging, but if you choose not to read it here is the gist of that bit, filtered through my horrible memory.
Goals can result in feeling like a loser most of the time, because up until you meet your goal, you kinda are. Systems, that is things you do that move you in the right direction, continuously improving your situation, can make you feel like a winner every time you use your system.
That was not a good explanation. Too bad for you.
So no fancy, exciting goals for me. I’m keeping my head down and developing systems that will lead me to achieve what would have been a goal. No “new years resolutions” just “this is what I do now.”
My inspiration, Elizabeth Benton, talks about something she calls “the fruits and the roots.” Imagine you have a beautiful apple tree, which you love and and fuss over often, caring for everything above the ground like it was your baby. You even shine the apples daily. That tree will die. You aren’t tending to the roots. It doesn’t get water or nutrients, maybe there’s even a critter down there chewing through the roots.
Goals are like the apples. They might look great, and you love them, but they are only the effect of a healthy system. You might get a few apples without caring for the roots, but not for very long. By contrast, if you care for the roots, apples will just happen, whether or not you stop and polish them.
What is represented by the roots in this story? The emotional work. The maintainable habits you build as well I guess, but mostly the emotional/psychological work you do for yourself.
I signed up for Elizabeth Benton’s Fat Loss Fast Track 12 week online group coaching course. It starts on the 8th, and while I’m convinced this is the path that will lead to permanent weight loss, I’m not getting too excited. Head down and do the work. I’d rather be content to work hard for a long time than over excited at first, followed by despair. No more dreaming and scheming, because that has never worked for long. Sure, in the past full of dreams, I might drop 20 lbs in the first month, but those pounds were just taking vacation: they were never gone for good.
EB’s system promises sustainability and a focus on the roots of the issue.
The only thing that makes me sad about this approach is that my husband doesn’t seem to be fully bought in. Theoretically, that shouldn’t matter, especially since he promised never to talk to me about my weight again (more because he’s given up hope than because he respects my ability to pick out a plan for myself). He says it sounds slow, and that sometimes people who advocate for taking things slow are just trying to make themselves feel good. Translation: Katrina, you aren’t pushing hard enough. If only you had started to run intensely for an hour everyday and eating nothing but veggies when I told you to the first time you wouldn’t be hating yourself today. He would probably debate that translation… or maybe not. I can’t even pretend to understand him, and that hurts too. So he’s keeping quiet, mostly, but he’s also said he doesn’t expect this plan to work, and I think he feels vindicated because all my past attempts that he didn’t think were extreme enough have failed so far. It’s really hard not to let that view get to me, especially since I think about it whenever I talk to him. I often try and hide my efforts from him, much like I hid my binges from him, because I don’t want him to see me trying something he thinks isn’t enough.
Anyway, this is what I do now. I’ve started tracking what I eat and how I feel afterwards. I’ve also been making huge pots of soup because 1) soup is delicious and 2) it means I have 6 meals ready to go for those times (all the time) when I don’t know what to be eating. Plus, I love listening podcasts while I cook a bucket of soup. I’m using the Sleep Cycle app to get a better sense of my sleeping patterns, and I’m keeping track of all the meds I take daily and my moods. I hope to eventually be weened off the pills.
Oh, the title? I’m just trying to be self-aware. That’s kind of new. Everything in this post is new for me.
Ok, I said in my short post the other day that I was planning something for Monday. It’s Wednesday now and I only just posted it. What did I post, you may well be asking.
This is what I posted:
It’s my humble attempt to create change. I had the idea, and so felt obligated to give it a shot, despite my cowardice and crippling fear of my own incompetence. I kind of wish someone else had had this idea instead, someone more knowledgeable, someone with a devoted social media following. If I had to pick someone to start a such campaign in the hopes that it will go viral, I would not have chosen myself.
But I had the idea, and it seemed good at the time. Now that I’ve acted on it, of course, it seems ridiculous. But someone has already made the call! Actually, he did something way cooler than read the script I compiled. He got specific, which (I assume) is way more effective. He did not, however copy and paste the instructions I designed in the hopes of creating virality. I think around three of his friends have already commented that they will call too, but there is no way for me to know if they do, or if it goes any further than them.
Here’s what a friend of his wrote when she reposted his video:
Katrina Huber-Juma is organizing people to call their Congressional, state and local representatives in support of Campaign Zero’s platforms, and take video of themselves doing so. [Redacted] made this video of his call to his Assemblyman’s office and talks about dealing with phone anxiety during the process.
The bill he’s talking about is a state bill. You can find information about legislative issues in front of your own representatives right now by entering your zip code at http://www.joincampaignzero.org/
Having worked in a legislative office, these calls are a lot more impactful than you might think. Offices carefully track how many constituents call in in support of vs. against a particular piece of legislation. Even if a policymaker’s mind is firmly made up, enough calls can sometimes prompt them to focus more energy on an issue, or to tone down their engagement with that issue.
If you can’t make a phone call, that is totally fine! Emails and snail mail are tracked in this way as well and also make a difference.
Here’s how the idea grew.
I was horrified by the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, but wasn’t sure how to express myself. A status update from me didn’t seem useful, so I wrote nothing. I felt I had nothing unique to say. My friends already know that racism and police brutality is wrong, saying as much to them… just didn’t seem useful. I’m not a great thinker or a powerful writer, I don’t have a special perspective that needs to be heard.
Then I saw on someone’s page a recommendation that people call their police chief or something. And I wanted to do it. But what would I say? I didn’t have any solutions.
Somehow, I got to thinking that maybe more people would call if they knew exactly who to call and what to say. I realized I’d already made my mind up to call, so I’d need to figure that out for myself anyway, so why not share that information?
I don’t remember how I made this leap, exactly, but suddenly I was thinking about the wildly viral Ice Bucket Challenge, and it seemed like maybe that would be the way to do it.
I started talking over my idea with friends, both to strengthen the idea, and to add more pressure to myself to actually follow through. One friend provided a link to a site called Campaign Zero, and that had all the information I needed, all neatly laid out.
So the plan became to try and start something. I would film myself making a call to my representative, and I would read a script (I basically heavily summarized the points from Campaign Zero to make the script, and had others look at it). Then I would nominate others to either make the call or donate to Black Lives Matter. They would then nominate others, and so on and, hopefully, so on and so on.
The friends I talked it over with were excited, proud.
Why film a phone call? Because I want to appeal to people who want to be seen to be doing good. I think there are people who will be more likely to make the call if they can get positive feedback for it on their social media (being 100% honest, that might also be me, I’m still trying to sort out my motives in my own mind). Also, I wanted to show that it’s not really hard to call and doesn’t take long, and that you don’t even have to be good on the phone (I’m certainly not).
It took me a while to decide whether or not to include in the text of the post some advice to the effect of “don’t tag your traumatized Black/POC friends,”and I’m still not quite comfortable with my decision to leave that off. I mean, I trust my friends’ judgement, but if it gets further away from me than that, someone might make a bad call. But I didn’t want to discourage anyone.
I asked people before I publicly challenged them to make the call. Some people didn’t respond, although I know they saw the messages. I was shocked and saddened by how many people said “no” or “that’s not really my thing.”
Honestly, each new “no” made me feel personally hurt and, yes, changed my opinion of the person saying it (despite the promise I made to myself not to hold it against anyone). A phone call seems like a remarkably small thing to ask. I wanted to beg “Please, my children will be Black. My whiteness won’t protect them once they leave my arms!”
I had to remind myself that I have it easy. As much as these declinations hurt me, I tried to imagine how much more they would hurt if I were Black. I would be like being told, to my face, that my lives like mine aren’t worth a 3 minute phone call.
My husband doesn’t believe that there will ever be positive change in this area. For a few days, I truly believed that what I was doing could make a difference. Now that this project is pretty much out of my hands, my belief has abandoned me. But I’m glad it lasted me long enough to try.
I wouldn’t say I’m an activist, or that I feel I’ve done enough or all I can do. I’ve just dipped my tiny toe into trying to do something about something. And the call was easy to make. If you claim to care, make a call, make your voice heard.
If you, dear reader, want to try and start this, I would be grateful. Present it as your own idea, if you think that would make it more compelling to your friends.
The script is the cover picture here.
If you want to see everything on facebook tagged with #callingForReform, go here.
Here’s my call
So I’ve had an idea. I want to do my small part to encourage police reform. I plan to do it Monday. I’ll post that night or on Tuesday. I’m posting this now so I don’t chicken out. I’ve got some research to do.
Black lives matter.
So, #operationVisibleDifference is in full effect. I can’t remember if I explained it already, so I’ll just expain now. My hubby is away, so while he’s gone I want to make a visible difference in my body composition to surprise him. I mentioned this plan in a Facebook group and someone put the number sign in front of it, and that looked right to me, so that’s how I’ll write it from now on. Not being a tweeter (Twitterer? Twit? Twat?), I don’t really understand hashtags. Is there already a tag of #operationVisibleDifference? If there is, is that a problem?
So the operation is in effect, I’ve had a couple days going to bikram and doing a regular workout every day, and now 3 days of rest (although I probably shouldn’t have taken today off). I lost 3 pounds in 3 days. I ate a little recklessly yesterday, but I don’t think I actually did any damage. I went on an 8 mile hike the day before. I feel really good about this whole idea. It feels good to have a goal and to work towards it.
For those who can’t read my handwriting (can I have a show of hands for those who can read it? No one? Oh, ok then), that list is:
Bird –15 min (I’m trying to get my parakeet to like me. Have any tips? I don’t know what I’m doing)
Shower (damn right I have to schedule that in, otherwise I’ll just be gross all day)
Anki –1 hr (that’s a flash card program, free for desktop, that I recommend)
Room cleaning –1 hr (a sort of side project included in #operationVisibleDifference, because I know he’ll like to see the room looking nice)
Bird –15 min
Swahili flash cards (also to impress my husband, who is a native speaker)
Headfirst –1 hr
Movement (a few body weight squats or whatever, I haven’t picked yet, I just want get blood moving again so I don’t fall asleep)
Headfirst –1 hr
…And repeat the last two until it’s dinner time.
This will be hard for me, as I am very lazy. I will want to stop and sleep for hours. Often I’m too tired after my workouts, such that even taking a shower seems insurmountably daunting. But that shit ain’t gonna fly no more. I’m becoming a new person. I kind of need your help though, because if I don’t put this out on my blog, I will lose steam and stop trying, take a nap. I need to imagine that there is someone out there who has read this and who is really hoping I pull through tomorrow, that I executed my plan flawlessly and who will be disappoint if I fail. Then once I’ve done it with your help, proving I can do it, maybe I can eventually do it alone.
In other news, I took a before pic!
A bit sunburnt from my 8 mile hike.
And here is one compared to a month ago. Although my weight is technically higher in the photo on the right, I think I actually look visibly better.
And, because those are so ugly, here are some pictures I feel good about
…The mouse will try super hard to make progress to impress the cat when he returns!
Sad news everyone: people die. I’ve gone a long time without having to really think about that, except for when a beloved pet would pass, and honestly I’m still not really thinking about it because it freaks me out and there is no comfort. But I ought to be thinking about it. For one thing, a gentle, poetic fellow I slightly knew has been murdered senselessly on the street, and for another, my husband’s grandfather appears to be on the brink. I feel like a cold bitch because I’m not as upset about either thing as I feel I should be. It all feels far away and incomprehensible. I’m worried about my husband and how he feels, but I don’t seem to emotionally understand that I’ve lost the chance to meet one of the people who raised him and cared for him and who is important to him. I feel I should be more affected.
But since I’m not, I won’t bother you with it. What you do need to know is that my husband left for Kenya today, to be with his family. He has a one way ticket. He will be coming back, but we have no idea when. I’d hazard a guess that he won’t come back in less than a month, which means…
…I have some time to be a surprise when he gets back! I think I might be able to make a visible difference in my body in that time, what do you think? I’m going to try. He’s observant, so if I manage it, I think he will notice. It’s an idea I came up with when I was wondering how best to support my husband in this difficult time. I decided that what I can do is make his return to the states, whenever it happens, as joyful as possible by developing good habits while he’s away. I also want to study a little Swahili.
So now I’m going to set some goals.
- Lose 2 lbs a week. In a month I should be at 243 lbs
- Be consistent going to Bikram every weekday morning
- Go to the gym or personal training 5 times a week (because of the bet) and lift heavier weights by the end of the month
- Learn how to keep our room clean and organized. He’s a tidy sort, but somehow my disorderly nature wins when it comes to how the room looks
- Practice Swahili flashcards every day
- Maybe learn to do something pretty with my hair?
If he’s gone more than a month, I’ll miss him for longer, but I’ll be glad of the chance to make even more difference. I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I feel like I’m not a good enough wife. Well, if that’s really how I feel, this is a chance to do something about it!
What would you do if you had a month to set up a surprise for someone you love/want to impress?
So, I declared that I would post again today, and here I am, posting. Win.
Yesterday was a pretty bad day. I just felt wretched and useless and I spent several hours taking an undeserved nap. Not even a good nap. I had timers going off every 20 to 30 minutes, trying to make the napping stop, but I kept saying “just one more” over and over. I felt depressed and scared of everything. I went to the gym (a 20 minute drive away) and left without going in, then went back a few hours later and did a short, slightly shoddy workout.
I made the decision last night that I would do better today. I listened to a hypnosis app about making a choice to be happy as I went to bed. When I woke up, I dragged myself (with my friend) to 6 am bikram. After that, I posted on my weight loss facebook group and texted another friend until it was time to go to personal training. I felt strong, hopeful and connected to people.
After training, I met my mother and my husband for coffee. But before I got out of the car, someone called me. It was one of those guys who matches job seekers with jobs, and he’d found my resume and thought I might be a good fit for a position he had found. He asked me to make a couple adjustments to my resume.
That’s when the day took a turn for the weird. While he was talking, I was excited and hopeful. But later, when it came time to adjust my resume, I sort of freaked out and started worrying a lot. I took another nap (although this time it felt earned because of the double workout), had a less healthy lunch than I had intended, and procrastinated like crazy.
You see, I’m scared of change, and my situation right now is comfortable. I’m living at my parents house, everything is taken care of and free. A job doesn’t feel urgent, and I would be sorry to say goodbye to my copious free time for naps and gym. And I’m a bit terrified that I won’t be good at whatever I get employed to do. What if I can’t meet the deadlines? What if I’m expected to know things I don’t know yet? What if I know even less than I think I know?
But I ultimately got the resume out. No response yet, but it hasn’t been long.
In the meantime, someone on facebook posted an article that shifted my perspective. It’s called Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year. Even just the title gave me hope. If trying to get hired is too terrifying, maybe I can treasure rejections as proof that I’m trying, that I am willing to put myself out there. And if I’ve got a rejection goal, instead of being devastated by each “nope,” I can see it as progress towards something.
I guess that’s all at the moment. I’ll post again by Friday evening. Now I’m going to try and be productive with what’s left of the day.
Hello, again. It’s been too long, again.
Last post, I was trying to start a meetup. There wasn’t good attendance for the first two meetups, and that discouraged me from scheduling another one. But just now, between writing “It’s been too long, again” and “last post…”, I decided, what the f, just try again and scheduled a repeating meetup every Saturday at 9 am. Wish me better success this time! I’m hoping that every week will pick up more people. I’m super nervous, tbh.
My dog, Hobbit, died, but I don’t want to talk about that. My parents already got a new dog, which took some getting used to.
I’ve been really struggling to maintain motivation. I have very little trouble getting motivated, but it doesn’t seem to last the full day, so that’s minimally useful.
I took the leap of buying my friend a bikram pass so that I have someone to go with, so that I actually go. I figure it’s better to pay double but get the benefits than it would be to pay the normal price and get nothing because I lack motivation. This friend is good at getting going, unlike me, so it is a lot easier to just tag along with her than to get myself moving all alone.
In other news, the Warriors lost and my husband and I had a bet going. Had they won, he would have had to listen to the whole Hamilton soundtrack with me. But they lost, so now I have to go to the gym 5 times a week for a year, starting tomorrow. Can you tell he drives a harder bargain than I do? Sigh. I think I’ll try the workouts recommended in the book Strong. I made tables in word with the first set of workouts, here’s what that looks like.
Maybe that’s all I have to say today, but I’m going to commit right now to posting again on… Tuesday. Why not? See you then!
It’s been a while. Again. A lot has happened… A lot of nothing has happened for the most part, but some things have happened too.
My dog, who has a tummy tumor, no longer looks and acts sick. Yes, she’s a bit slower than she was in her youth, but she’s still moving, exhibiting joy, enjoying life. I’m back to believing that she could never leave us.
My new comforting thought is that I’m average, a blank slate, and I can work at anything and be good enough at it. That may seem like a weak affirmation, but it really helps me. I used to be told by my parents and teachers that I was smart and talented. That led me to not work hard, to slack off, believing that I was just going to talent my way through life. So those talents, art and music and writing, are not well developed and I feel very uncomfortable trying to do anything with them. Then I started telling myself that I’m not good at anything, that I could never be. That also encouraged me to not work hard, because what would be the point?
As an average person, with average abilities, I can finally settle down to work on myself, develop a couple useful skills, and someday get employed. I’m not so worthless that there’s no point in trying, but I’m not so brilliant that I don’t need to try. I’m as good as others. And that is good.
In other news, I am trying something else that scares me and makes me uncomfortable. I’ve started a group on Meetup. It’s called “Happy Healthy Weight Loss, Berkeley” …maybe kind of a long name, but I had a lot to say. The first scheduled event was on Saturday. 11 people RSVPed that they’d be there, but only one showed up, 16 year old daughter in tow. So the three of us went for a hike and it was nice. I’m not going to pretend the attendance wasn’t disappointing, but she said I shouldn’t get discouraged, that I should keep trying.
The reason I am so uncomfortable is that, based on the pictures, nearly everyone in my group is older than, and possibly thinner than me. I don’t feel qualified to lead. I don’t have any organizational skills. I don’t know what I’m doing. Really I don’t. I don’t know why all those people didn’t show up.
I have these visions of making friends with people, playing soccer or other sports, hiking, having potlucks. Then I compare that to the group, which seems to be mostly mothers. Some are divorced. Some probably have careers that are interesting. Me? I have nothing to offer them, as far as interesting conversation. How do I relate to them? The one who came on the hike was complaining that her friends are too low energy. I am the lowest energy level you can reach while still (sometimes) being conscious.
But a few people have thanked me for setting up the group, said it’s just what they need. And that feels great. I’ve met one other woman through this, and she was also very happy about the group. She was happy to have found a meetup that was for people who want to get healthy (and maybe aren’t healthy yet. There are already plenty of groups for healthy people to do healthy things together). So I’ve done a good thing. I’m trying to get some momentum going, trying to pry some ideas out of other people. I’m hoping someone will want to help me at some point.
Any advice? Have you ever tried to do something like this? Have you ever participated in something like this?
My dog has a very large tumor in her tummy. The vet thinks it could be a cyst or stage 4 cancer. If it’s cancer, they expect her to live only up to three months. If it’s a cyst, she might be ok for a while, but it could rupture any time and she would die of internal bleeding. For a couple days, she wouldn’t eat and barely moved. My heart is in knots.
My contract is up on the 15th, so I need to be looking for a job. That scares me very much, because I don’t know that I’m qualified to do anything. I look at myself and see only incompetence. Possibly it’s “imposter syndrome,” but it’s extremely real to me. My stomach is in knots.
Meantime, a tiny, two person start up that I did some visual work for back in the autumn has contacted me because they are in an accelerator program and need more work. My husband is convinced that this is my opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that could be big. My parents think it’s an opportunity to never be paid and waste time that I could otherwise spend looking for a proper job. I think nothing. I have never felt less bold or decisive, and my entire life has been a litany of timidity and indecision. My mind is in knots.
The only things that seem to make me feel temporarily better is my facebook group and when I go out for my run/walks and can immerse myself in audiobooks, physical discomfort and beautiful nature. Today, I saw a hawk perch in a tree, take flight, and land–unexpectedly clumsily–on the other side of the path, then fly away on strong wings. I heard a chorus of frogs. I saw the Golden Gate bridge looking blue in the distance. I saw a man on a horse. I saw three orange and black butterflies spiraling up a sunbeam under the shady trees. Last week, I heard a pack of coyotes yelping and wailing, echoing across the hills.
I have been eating not quite so triumphantly well for the past 4 days. I don’t think I did terribly today, although I was sloppy with tracking so it’s hard to be certain. I’m so worried about my good dog. Sometimes, I just lay on the floor, staring at her, trying to be as close to her as possible, to appreciate her as much as I possibly can.
I just want everything to be ok again, to stop hurting. Eating doesn’t help, it just begets more and more eating, but it’s still my first thought when I feel this bad.